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  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in noir (7)

Friday
Mar172017

Los Irish

This short tale is only a small part of something larger, I'm hoping. Oh, and happy St. Patrick's Day. 

__________________________________

It was a scene right out of Chandler, except I'm no gumshoe. A rain-soaked back alley at night, distant neon smeared abstract by the tireless storm. She wore Docs and a faded cotton dress, some reptile print. Gators or iguanas or some shit. Close-cropped hair and makeup-less. Celtic eyes dark as oxbow tannin. Her dress in the downpour so thin she might as well have been naked.

Without a shred of lechery, I said, "Nice Brazilian."

Despite her instant "Fuck you," a corner of her mouth twitched in a phantom smile.

I passed her the thin package wrapped in plastic film and she slid it under her dress, smoothing it carefully against her lower belly like a newly expectant mom.

"If I'd known, I'd have brought a raincoat."

"Not a chance, mister."

"I meant an actual raincoat."

Again she smiled. Cursed at me without malice before leaning forward and whispering three words in my ear and then dissolving into the night.

"Yeah, bye, Sinéad," I called after her. Did I tell you I have a puerile sense of humor sometimes?

It earned me one last well-deserved "Fuck you," and I could almost see it trailing off like cigarette smoke and rejoining the shadows—tragic, arch, and funny, like its source.

Nothing compares, indeed. 

Friday
Jul312015

Turbine Love

Bruised Sky Junction — Michael O'Toole"How did this happen? How did you end up nearly dead on a cold slab, bleeding out hope?"

"You watch her walking away into that mercury heat shimmer, and you start to lose her outline, her hip sway, and you see your heart abandon your chest forever."

The scream of a jet in a cathedral dome. Frozen outposts dreaming of mammalian warmth. The quiet sanctuary of a woman's breasts. The rise and fall of her breath. Boys running on rooftops. A dark ocean gone silent. Desolate acres of shallow graves: the aftermath of massacre. The brief smile of a refugee. Someone waiting for news. What comfort lies in such imaginings?

We enter this room, thrown awry by the greenery alongside the cold, diagrammatic walls, annotated accounts of serial murders, bad dreams curling at their corners, pinpricked, while yellow drafts press their round flesh like thick, dewy petals.

Breathe. Again. You'll need it.

There's a ceiling fan spinning like a galaxy over my head—gut check, head check, jumbo jet—and I await today's first customer in the paltry shade of a giant cactus and a joshua tree while silver orbs dart across the horizon, feigning alienation, dreaming of escape from the sizzling planetary heat, futile, and the surpassingly cool demeanour of a woman throwing shade in a clean white shirt and crow-black pencil skirt and sheer assassin heels who steps poised into the growling lowslung roadster while dry electric arpeggios repeat along street vision fantasies of idealized love, greedy with ancient holes and sucking choirs of lupine need and sound into sandstorm cradles all incensed and drowned by wrath, as those compelled seek skittering arachnid lairs black and glossy as shoes shined by nineteen fifties negro boys, struggling in nests, squirming in holes, while caucasian voices tell one grey slanted side of a tedious and endless tale, clutching authenticity as if entitled, sucking pearl mists of motel ozone from superheated air both blessed and tainted by secret refinery cravings and deep essential sin, grasped by the emerald stem of a sunflower or a late August cornstalk, a harrowing green both yearning and sheathing yellow as it ought to, and we see this and follow it, seeking a trail, while orange detour signs coax us blinking and brokenhearted and sobbing from the interstate through dark unraveling rural tales all hazed with sundown rays and aglow with glimpses of our own possible ruin, take me, feel me, don't lose the spinning thread of our black, shining wreckage, our blighted horror, our love, our hankering, don't you fucking ever.

Friday
Sep192014

Lint

Go away. There is lint in my head. I have no idea how it got there. What is lint? Clustered micro fabric and human skin? Uh. Could fashion a golem from it. A movie was playing earlier, The Big Sleep, Bogart and Bacall. I can't get the lint out. Sneeze it out? Cough? It's too far in. Nothing will work, not any more. I am sad Lauren Bacall died. I know Bogart also died, and he smoked like he never wanted to taste the air of this world, but that was a long time ago now, and besides, she was feisty. And elegant. It's hard to be elegant with lint in your head. I need a sugar alternative; I eat too much white death. Not in cakes and that kind of shit, but in tea and coffee. Although strictly speaking that means I drink it not eat it. Someone told me there is ground bone in white sugar. Is that true? She might have been a vegan. The person who told me that, I mean. She had an agenda maybe. Double Indemnity is another good one. Is noir a cure for lint, or a cause of it? I no longer know for sure and am paralyzed by my ignorance. Barbara Stanwyck was never paralyzed by anything. Except by death, of course. I am lying on a hot deserted highway and I can't move. I am broken. Tender shoots are crawling from the road's many cracks. I can see them growing; they're repulsive. She did kiss me once, she did. There is old blood smeared on the road's crumbling surface. Terrible wrenching things have occurred. I love the sound of coyotes, like teenagers trying on primal round a campfire. Enraged and intoxicated by life. Or should that have been with life? The syntax is slipping, words loosen. Yapping and shrieking at a moon cowering. Junior wolves. Is it night already? Am I this far from help? How can lint be so heavy? A lonely tear escapes my eye and begins its own brief story. Unremarked. Soon gone. A doctor in a dark overcoat is climbing the stairs. He is hunched and trembling under the burden of his appalling news.

Friday
Aug152014

Dockland

He felt almost conspicuous under the pearly cone of light at the shabby corner of Wheelhouse and Commercial. This time of night there were plenty of lights down at the wharf, glimmering amid the docks like tiny nebulae, but there was also plenty of shadow.

The sharp surprise of a coyote, yapping somewhere impossibly close, stunned him with portent.

But invisibility had always been his superpower, this grey man in a grim place. He would be fine, he always was.

Then she was there. Of course. She had seen him. A slight woman stooping a little and wrapped in a nondescript coat that barely covered her knees. She looked so fragile, almost childlike in fact, that he felt inexplicably sad. The deep kind of sad. The kind that doesn't go away no matter how much tequila you drown it with or how much cocaine you try rubbing into its receding gums.

She passed him what she'd come here to pass him. His guts moved inside him, squidlike. He handed her a roll of bills and she pocketed them without even counting.

And like cold breath in an awful dream about dying in fog, she was gone.

Leaving him holding it. The heavy thing. Heavy, cooling, yet still warm with its own ghost, and still dripping.

Saturday
Apr122014

Addiction

Soccer fans have a saying: "it only takes a second to score a goal." But that has its flipside. Sometimes the moments that end up changing our lives, utterly refashioning them, and not always for the better, also occur within a heartbeat of time. We might only recognize them in hindsight. I realize I am becoming addicted to flash fiction, which is another level of irony given the latest one I wrote for Dan Mader's Friday flash fiction challenge is titled Addiction. Why? I wonder. I think it's partially the brevity, the minimal time commitment in a crowded, busy world filled with deadlines. Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever get to my abandoned novel, and even traditional short stories are becoming increasingly daunting in terms of time, but flash fiction? Especially timed (although I admit I often play pretty fast and loose with that part, and since Dan is a good guy he doesn't give me too much of a hard time about it). Surprisingly, you can say a hell of a lot when everything's pared down to a moment, whether it be a moment of comedy, a moment of fear, a moment of transcendence, a moment of horror, a moment of pure loss. This short piece is a nod to noir, of course, with its femme fatale and smoky barroom setting, but it's also a moment. A moment in which... Okay, that's enough. I shouldn't need to explain it. Plus, it doesn't even matter what I think. I hope someone gets something out of this. I very much enjoyed writing it, how it emerged like slow ribbons of smoke from a cigarette held between slender fingers.

Addiction

The bar is dark in daylight. What paltry light there is moves sluggish, thwarted by dust motes and smoke.

"I can't help it if I have an addictive personality." Liv leans forward and presses one slender finger into my sternum. "And you don't exactly help, my lover, my partner, my significant other."

"How so?"

"Indulgences. Temptations. Urges."

I have no idea what she's talking about, so I decide to enjoy the view down the front of her shirt. Significant other. Ha. She's being an asshole, albeit a flirtatious one. I don't believe in addictive personalities; I believe only in strength or weakness. I smirk at her. She raises one perfect eyebrow, a brunette Lana Turner. Like she knows what I'm thinking, like she knows this postman will not only ring twice, he'll keep on ringing until somebody damn well answers.

"I can quit them all, you know."

I can feel my smirk stretching my face.

"Fuck you," she says, as if she's telling me about the weather. Her face is placid as Arctic ice.

All of a sudden I'm scared. She's out of her chair and at the door before I can think. Confused, I look down at the table.

"Wait! You forgot your cig—"